Preparing your home to sell:
While there is plenty you can do to prepared you home for selling, if you're on a limited budget, it's best to focus on improvements on the areas that will make the biggest difference in your home's selling price. These include the exterior and entrance; both heavily impact on buyers' first impressions, the living room, kitchen and bathrooms, the master bedroom and outdoor living space, such as a back patio. The following methods can and should be employed in as many rooms of the house as you can afford and have time for:
Grab them from the curb
You've seen them. Buyers crouched low in their cars in front of your house, doing drive-bys before deciding whether to request a viewing. Make these potential buyers fall in love with your home from the street by giving it "Kerb Appeal". This can be done simply by adding potted plants and flowers, cleaning patios and walkways, weeding the garden and mowing the lawn. It's your first chance to make a good impression, so make it count!
In the kitchen, potential buyers love to see new appliances that come with the home, but if you can't do that, make sure the ones you have are spotless. No one wants to see splattered spaghetti sauce, grease or piles of crumbs. Likewise, make sure your bathroom sparkles, from the corners of the tub to that spot behind the toilet you don't think anyone can see. Your goal should be to make everything sparkle like new.
There are two major problems with clutter. One is that it distracts buyers from your home's features. The other is that it makes it seem like the home doesn't have enough storage space. Put away knick-knacks. Keep in mind that buyers will be interested in your cupboard space, so tossing everything into the cupboards to hide it away may not be the best strategy. Buyers need to be able to envision themselves in your home.
Pets, kids, what you ate for dinner last night, a mildew-covered bathroom and many other conditions can make your home smell. You are probably immune to your home's smell, so you'll need to have a "good" friend or neighbour help you out with this one. Inexpensive tricks for ridding a home of odours and giving it an inviting aroma include burning vanilla-scented candles, or investing in some good quality Air fresheners. If you're a smoker and you normally smoke indoors, start limiting your smoking to outside the home and take extra steps to deodorize indoors. Finally, don't forget to take out the rubbish.
Make sure each room has a single, defined purpose. Also make sure that every space within every room has a purpose so that buyers will see how to maximize the home's square footage. A junk room can be transformed into a guest bedroom or Home Office. Even if the buyer won't want to use the room for the same purpose, the important thing is for them to see that every inch of the home is usable space.
You may love your orange bathroom, but people's tastes in colours are very specific and highly personal. While you might think that white walls would be ideal because they create a blank slate that allows buyers to envision their own decor and gives them an easy starting point, it's actually better to paint your home with warm, neutral colours that appeal to the masses and project the homey image you're trying to sell.
No one wants to live with dirty, stained carpet, especially when someone else made it that way. Clean carpets to remove stains and smells. Hardwood floors add value and elegance to a home and appeal to almost everyone. Get rid of worn carpets, and consider refinishing shabby hardwood floors. An inexpensive new rug is a quick fix and can disguise the look of old floor.
Take advantage of your home's natural light. Open all curtains and blinds when showing your home. Add supplemental lighting where necessary. Outdated or broken light fixtures can be cheaply and easily replaced. If you think your existing fixtures are fine, make sure to dust them, clean off any grime and empty out the dead bugs. Make sure all bulbs are working.
Make sure furniture is the right size for the room, and don't clutter a room with too much. Furniture that's too big will make a room look small, while too little or too small furniture can make a space feel cold. You'll also want to arrange the furniture in a way that makes each room feel spacious yet homey. In the living room, for example, seating should be set up in a way that creates a gathering area around a focal point i.e. Fireplace.
Walls and Ceilings
Cracks in the walls or ceiling are a red flag to buyers as they may indicate foundation problems. If your home does have foundation problems, you will need to either fix them or alert potential buyers to the problem. That said, a fix would be better in terms of getting the home sold. If the foundation only looks bad, but has been deemed sound by an inspector, repair the cracks so you don't scare off buyers for no good reason.
Your home's exterior will be the first impression buyers get and may even determine their interest in viewing the inside. Make sure your lawn, hedges, trees and other plants are well-maintained and neatly pruned and eliminate any weeds. To brighten windows, wash them well, and consider adding flowers to brighten them up further. If you can, power wash your home's exterior - it can make it look almost freshly painted but with less effort and expense. Make sure the pavement leading up to the house is clear and clean, and purchase new doormats for the front and back doors. Creating some sort of outdoor living space in the garden, such as a deck or patio with outdoor furniture, is another way to use the exterior of your home to its greatest advantage.
Just before any viewing make sure that your staging efforts don't go to waste with a few last-minute touches that will make the home seem warm and inviting. These include fresh flowers, letting fresh air into the house for at least ten minutes beforehand so it isn't stuffy, adding a pleasant scent as discussed earlier, and putting new, plush, nicely folded towels in the bathrooms.
Don't put too much money into the staging process. You want to emphasize the home's best features, but keep in mind that what sells the home and what will make the home usable for the buyer is not necessarily the same thing. Overall, to get the most for your home staging efforts should be designed to appeal to the widest possible range of buyers. The more people willing to submit purchase offers for your home, the higher the selling price will be.